Confidence is a wonderful characteristic for a woman to have. For many, it’s learned over time. It may take a while for some women to be comfortable in their own skin. While many assume rich, famous and beautiful women are automatically wired with this quality, such isn’t always the case. Case in point: beautiful, platinum-selling songstress Ke’Tara Shavon “Keke” Wyatt seems to have it all on the outside. She’s gorgeous, has pitch-perfect vocals, is extremely talented, sexy and humorously witty. But in her eyes, she’s just as normal as the next woman. She describes herself as a “ding-dong” and alludes to being uncomfortable with her exceptional beauty and “banging” body image, as her mother puts it. She faces the same insecurities and vulnerabilities that ordinary women deal with, but she’s found a way to cope.
In this exclusive interview with rolling out, the R&B diva goes deep and gets honest about herself. She’s very transparent in discussing who she is as an artist, a mother, a wife and how she feels about herself as a woman. She also takes us on a journey of re-establishing herself as an artist and talks about her latest project, Rated Love, which debuted on three Top 20 Billboard charts including No. 11 on R&B Albums, No. 16 on Independent Albums and No. 19 on the Top Hip Hop and R&B Albums charts. Of the success, she said, “This album represents a new sound for me and a new beginning. Rated Love represents my growth as a solo artist and my independence as a businesswoman and entrepreneur. I believe my fans and supporters will be pleasantly surprised about my new direction.”
You seem like you’re a lot of fun. Is that true?
Yes. I’m a ding-dong — I’ve always been a ding-dong. Like seriously, when you grow up in a rough home, rough situations, you learn how to be silly. You know what I mean? I kind of don’t have time for the serious stuff because that’s all you live in. Does that make sense?
The laughter can be a defense mechanism. Does that apply to you?
Yes. I get real silly when I’m shy. I get real silly when I don’t know what else to do. I get silly when I’m nervous. But I get way different when I’m pissed or I’m hurt. … The nervous part is when I’m silly, goofy, trying to cover up.
You’re extremely beautiful.
I honestly don’t see that. I see someone who is not who they want to be. I see someone who I don’t know. I’m doing better though. I’m really doing better.
When you look in the mirror, what is it that you see?
Someone who has a really big heart. But nobody can see it because they’re too busy paying attention to what’s on the outside. And I don’t care for what’s on the outside, because I feel like people are looking at me and judging me.
Why don’t you like what you see on the outside?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. You have to ask the Lord.
So, do you consider yourself confident?
No, and that’s honest. Can’t find it. I don’t know why. As God is my witness, even with singing I’m just not confident. Like if somebody said. “Keke sing ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow,’ ” and I’ll sing it. But the whole time I’m wondering, “Ugh, do they hear that?”
I’ve always thought that there’s nothing wrong with being uncomfortable with your gift because that kind of helps you stay humble.
Probably. I think that’s why the Lord allows this shadow over my vision towards myself. I don’t know. Because my mom tells me all the time, “If I looked like you, I would be a mess!” And I’m like, “Yeah, you would be a mess because you’d look like a mess.” And she’s like, “There is no way. You’re absolutely gorgeous. Your body is banging. You sing your behind off.” And I’m just like, “OK.”
With that being said, and with that being the way that you see yourself, how do you instill confidence in your children if you don’t necessarily have it for yourself?
Don’t do what I do; do what I say. That’s how I feel. But I have confidence in being a mother. Now, I’m very confident in that and my family, and showing my love. And my compassion and taking care of my family and working like a monster and making sure that everybody has what they need and want. Even if I don’t get anything, I don’t care. So, I’m confident in the fact that I’m a great mom. And a good daughter, and a good sister, and a good wife, the best wife I can be without being a wench.
How important is it for you to be those things?
It’s more important to me than breathing. It’s that important. I have to be a great mommy … I have to make sure that they are going to love people no matter what, and that their gifts speak to help gather souls for Christ. It’s very important to me because I feel deep down in my heart that it is the only reason why I’m here anyway.
Do you wish you could just let your heart and your music do all of your talking for you?
Yes. Because people judge me off of someone that they don’t know. They judge me off of the person that got forced into being angry, and weak, and sad.
How do you go about showing your true self? Or does that matter?
It matters … I write my songs, and I try to show who I am through my music. I know the TV is basically for your entertainment, but for some reason people like negative entertainment. And I don’t know why. But they do for whatever reason. If it ain’t negative, it ain’t jumpin’. It’s crazy. I feel like when I sing and I write that I’m able to get through to people what I need for them to know about me.
Tell us about your new music.
It’s my soul. It’s who I am. It’s what makes me whole. It’s what makes me me. I’m so excited because I’m putting my new album out on my own label, which is Aratek Entertainment … It’s my name [Ke’Tara] spelled backward. … [With the label], I’m able to put my own project out. I don’t have to worry about other labels, and what they think … It’s my thing. I can sing what I want. I can come in when I want. I can do what I want to do. The only thing is that I have to pay for everything. But, at the end of the day, I’ll get all of that back plus triple. So, it really doesn’t matter … With my music, I wrote everything, I sang everything. It just feels really good to be able to express myself. Another way to let my light shine is through my music because it truly comes from within, from the heart …
How will this album speak to listeners?
It will inspire people and make you want to love again. Like Beyoncé, her song “Me, Myself and I” spoke to me on so many different levels. Like it don’t make any sense. At that time, it was just me. I had three kids. Like it was so crazy. Everything that she was saying in that song spoke to me and spoke to my life. And I said to myself then, “This must be what my music does to people.” Because that song really helped me get through some things that I was going through at the time. It’s crazy how a song can literally bring you through dark times and it can bring you through devastation. That’s what I want to do. That’s what I aim for. I aim to help save people from mess. I think that this album is really going to speak to young girls, and boys, and older women and older men … Like people that have souls. I think it’s going to speak to people and help them get through the things that they’re going through in love. It’s talking about breakups, and makeups — it’s just real. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be straight love; it can be gay love. Love is love. Relationships are relationships. And I just want to help to inspire people to keep loving and don’t give up.
Story by Porsha Monique
Images by Ndeye Thioubou